Welcome to Honey Bend

When I was a little girl, my grandmother, MotherGrant, had a huge garden. She and DaddyMike grew all the veggies they’d use for the entire year.

But that veggie garden was about survival. It was not about joy.

In the afternoons, after the other garden work was done, MotherGrant would spend a little time every day on her knees, on the outside of the garden fence, weeding and tending her flowers.

celosiaMotherGrant’s flower garden ran all the way down the edge of the veggie garden, in a glorious pile of colors and shapes, from the humble violet to the bawdy whore-of-a blossom on the Celosia cristata. That’s a picture of one over there on the left.

She called them Princey Feathers. Her name fit, don’t you think?

I was in the garden with MotherGrant by the time I could walk, and though she had no science, she had something better. She had a gift. She didn’t know the Latin names of the flowers, but the plants didn’t care about that.

She loved the flowers, and they loved her back.

She taught me to love them too, and years later, long after MotherGrant had gone to tend God’s garden, I went to graduate school to study horticulture, and then I became a grower in a big commercial greenhouse.marigold

Flash forward a few years. I was doing something different for a living, but I’d started writing fiction on the side. I was working on a dark romantic suspense series when Del walked walked into my mind.

I figured out right away that she was persistent, because any time I stared out the window at the field in front of my house, that field would fade away and I’d end up in Del’s greenhouse. She was a greenhouse grower, just like I’d been, and while she was innocently puttering around with pots of flowers, she’d swipe a dirt-covered arm across her forehead and start in, telling me how she had this story, and she wanted me to tell it.

Every time I went outside to dig in the dirt in my own garden, Del went with me, pestering me.

Del grew up in a small town in southern Kentucky, not too far from where I live right now.

That town is Honey Bend.

I wrote the start of Del’s story long ago, just to get her to shut up. But then I put it away and ignored it for the longest time. But I never forgot about it.

I told y’all in my blog on February 4th about my growing pains, going from dark romantic suspense Goth Chick to writing small town romance, and I promised to show you the cover today.

Grow on Me Honey 2 megs

Brilliant cover artist Lyndsey Lewellen at LLewellen Designs got just the right feel for Del’s story, Grow On Me Honey.

That’s Del, with her hero, Erik.

Sometimes I wonder if MotherGrant wasn’t the one nudging me all this time, telling me I should write Del’s story, because it was a part of who I am.

Every time I’ve typed a blog over the past eight years, I’ve felt like I was sitting down on the porch with friends, telling stories, snapping beans, and inviting y’all to come around and “set a spell.”

Writing about the town of Honey Bend feels just like that. I can’t wait to tell you more about Del and Erik, but for right now, I’ll leave you with the cover, and hope you’ll feel as welcome in Honey Bend as I do.

In the meantime, tell me, Bandits and Buddies..

If you read small-town romance, what is it that draws you to the genre?

Is there someone from your past who played a role in making you who you are now?

Or is there something from your childhood that’s a part of who you are now, the way MotherGrant’s flower garden became a part of me?

If you want to knowBarn welcome to honey bend 40 percent size when their story comes out, you can follow me on facebook at Author Cassondra Murray.

Or you can sign up for my newsletter here.

I’ll give away one more combo this month to a random commenter—a grab bag of two random books and a piece of swag from my conference stash!

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Comments

88 Comments

  • ki pha says:

    Awww Honey Bend sounds and looks wonderful! I definitely enjoyed small town romances. I love the connection of every one in town and all the little ladies and gossips. Plus we get to see everyone from secondary characters to all the hits and misses of every day life of the residents there. It’s all love around that bonds and binds these folks together. And who doesn’t like small town romances? They’re fabulous! It’s a huge family affair. =)

    • Cassondra says:

      ki pha, I think you’ve hit on something important, and you’ve also hit on the crazy bird.

      Not sure that was a good hit, but you’ve got him.

    • Cassondra says:

      More than anything, I think it’s the secondary characters that I miss most when a small town romance series is between books or *sniffle* when it’s over. I know what’s happening with the main characters, or at least I know in my mind. But I miss seeing the interactions between the people. I think it’s the same reason I STILL watch reruns of Andy Griffith. I want to go back to Mayberry, USA.

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      I so agree, Ki Pha! It is that bond of community, isn’t it??

  • Jane says:

    Hello Cassondra,
    Looking forward to reading Del’s story. I remember when you were writing a story set in NYC. Hope I get to read that, too. I do enjoy reading romances set in small towns. I guess one reason is because the settings are such a contrast to what I’m familiar with, especially with how everyone in town knows one another and everyone knows everybody’s business.

    • Cassondra says:

      Hi Jane!

      It’s true–everybody knows everybody–and that’s actually one of the troublesome bits about living in small towns. People’s noses are always in other people’s business.

      But with that comes the understanding that if they know about your troubles, they’re usually there to reach out a hand. So it’s hard to have one without the other since humans are, overall, a bunch of beings who can’t look away from drama. *grin*

      And I really want to return to that New York City Story. It still smokes through my mind constantly, just like Honey Bend did all these years, so I know that I will finish that series one day. The first couple of books are done, but I don’t want to put out those and leave readers hanging, waiting for the rest of the series that never comes. Thank you so much for remembering that, and for bringing it up. No worries. This Goth Chick’s favorite city is NYC. ;0)

  • Mary Preston says:

    I do enjoy small town romances. I love the fact that the hero & heroine have no choice but to interact in a small community.

    My mother taught me to knit & I get such a sense of her when I knit. She is alive by the way, but has such a presence. I feel her right there with me as I choose a yarn or pattern. My mother is 90, so as you can imagine I am holding onto her very tight.

    • Cassondra says:

      Mary, I know that feeling so well–holding on tightly. My mom is 87, and every day I do one thing or another and am reminded that “I wouldn’t know that without my mom,” or “My mom taught me that,” or “I learned that from watching my mom.” My dad had even more of an influence on me, but he’s been gone for a while.
      And my grandparents were the same way. MotherGrant and DaddyMike are such a part of who I am, and I appreciate what they all gave me.

      I love that your mom is with you when you knit. That’s so special, and something you will always have of her. I have to believe that the presence of those who made us what we are will always be with us, even if they’ve crossed the veil. But yes, I hold on too.

  • Sally Schmidt says:

    What a nice cover. I can’t wait to visit Honey Bend. I love small town romance. There are always a few bad apples around but it mostly just feels really good.

    My grandmother could do most everything: cook, sew, converted the entire yard into a flower garden, did some bird watching, made paper dolls with complete wardrobes for us – and was a voracious reader. Books, books, books everywhere, fiction, non-fiction, encyclopedias, magazines. I don’t sew or garden, but boy can I cook and read. My sister is the gardener. I hope grandma is proud of us.

    • Cassondra says:

      Aw, Sally, your grandmother sounds amazing! And I know she’s proud of you.

      I’ve said for years, but now I believe even more, that one of the downfalls of our more mobile society is that a lot of kids don’t get as much influence from grandparents that way. Oh, there are fantastic things about being able to get half way across the country so easily, but those hours and days spent with the older folks in our lives…boy they sure did have an effect on me. I wonder what I would’ve become without that.

      You said:
      There are always a few bad apples around but it mostly just feels really good.

      So true and so well said! That’s a great way to describe small town settings!

      • Jeanne Adams says:

        That IS such a great way to describe it! And I always envied people who had grandparents around, so I know what you mean there too. My sons only got to know their paternal grandfather, unfortunately. They do have some wonderful “play” grandparents though, who live close, and a wonderful step-grandmother that is wonderful to them. We are actively seeking to be with her more these days. (Now that the boys are old enough not to trip on things!) Ha!

  • Helen says:

    Cassondra

    I can’t wait to read this one and I do love that cover I really enjoy small town romances because everyone is close and know each other that s such a nice feeling and they rally around when people need each other 🙂

    My Mum taught me so much I wouldn’t be the person I am today without her

    Woohoo Huge congrats

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • Cassondra says:

      Helen thank you so much. I’m glad you like the cover. I can’t wait for you to read the book. I’m working hard on finishing it.

      You said:
      they rally around when people need each other

      That’s so true. I know people can sometimes be harsh when they don’t approve of another person, but I’ve also never seen a community fail to reach out if they actually see someone in physical need. I know there are homeless people in small towns, but I don’t see too many, because when everyone knows everyone else, somebody who doesn’t have a place gets noticed more quickly, I think.

  • Amy Conley says:

    Cassondra, love that cover. And the book sounds intriguing. I guess I love the small town series books for the same reason you wrote one, I live in a small town, and small towns are a hotbed of stories.

    • Cassondra says:

      Amy, they are, aren’t they? Every time I sit down to work on this book, new characters walk into my mind, wanting a place on stage.

      They can’t all have a spot in every book of course. The cast would be way too big. But they all seem very excited to announce that they’d like to play a role. *grin*

  • Heathercm2001 says:

    Whenever I read a small-town romance, I feel like I am going on a little vacation. The stories suck me in, and if it is a series I’ve been reading for a while, I feel like I am visiting old friends. I really enjoy the dynamics of small towns. I don’t live in one, so maybe that is why I like to visit them in my reading. I love seeing the familiar faces in each book, and I also enjoy the newcomers that are passing through or moving in. The small-town businesses are always fun, as well as the town secrets and stories. I love to read all kinds of different books, but I really think the small-town romances are the ones I like to pick up when I need to get away and unwind.

    Now I have the Dustin Lynch song “Unwind It” stuck in my head, and the need to pick up a small-town romance and escape. Hopefully I get a chance to do that this weekend. 🙂

    The cover is beautiful! It will look perfect on my bookshelves. I can’t wait to read the story behind it! Congratulations!!! It is amazing and very exciting to see your name in those big letters!!!

    • Cassondra says:

      LOL, Heather now I’m going to have to go find that Dustin Lynch song. *grin*

      You said,
      The small-town businesses are always fun, as well as the town secrets and stories. Honey Bend has some of those secrets, and I debated about whether to spill some here today, like the way the town got its name, and a little of the history. I decided to wait, though, until the days coming up to the release to give those. Hmmm…now I’m rethinking that. Gosh, I want to spill.

      I love to read all kinds of different books, but I really think the small-town romances are the ones I like to pick up when I need to get away and unwind.

      It is that “unwind” that led me to pick up this series that had been floating in the back of my psyche for so long. The romantic suspense tends to wind me up tighter, and well…I guess my muse was resisting that.

      Gosh, now I REALLY have to go find the song.

    • Cassondra says:

      Oh, and I can’t wait for a photo of the book on your shelf. I will treasure that picture forever.

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Heather, I think you’ve described it beautifully – its about escape and unwind. Grins.

      And now…that song is now in my head too.

    • Heathercm2001 says:

      Oh it is a great song!!! Actually, Dustin Lynch’s albums could probably be described as small-town soundtracks. Let me know what you think. 🙂

      You are such a tease, holding back all those goodies about your book. However, I understand and will be patient as I wait for it.

      Thank you Jeanne! 🙂

      • Cassondra says:

        Heather, I LOVE IT! That’s a perfect song. Okay now I’m going to have to go looking for more of his music. He’s one of the best new country artists I’ve heard in a long time!

  • Brenda Rumsey says:

    Yes…I love small town settings and this one looks so inviting. My grandmother lived at the end of main street of a small town and had the most beautiful garden. She kept chickens, grew and canned her vegetable, and sewed on one of the old foot pedal sewing machines. I loved sitting on her front porch and “watching the garden grow” as people road past on horses.

    • Cassondra says:

      Oh my Gosh, Brenda, you paint such a lovely picture! And your grandmother sounds a lot like my MotherGrant. Both my mom and MotherGrant had an old treadle sewing machine sitting in their homes, but by then they’d gotten new, portable electric machines with the little foot switch to make the machine sew. I used to beg them to get the old machines out–to open the cabinet and pop the machine up to the top and let me play with it. Sometimes they did.(quick aside– No idea why sewing machines fascinate me, but they do.)
      Now you’ve got me imagining even more characters because of your lovely description!

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    My grandmother played a huge role in my life. She came to live with us when I was five, after my grandfather died. When my brother turned seven he became very ill and was diagnosed with a rare bone disease. From that point on he was in and out of the Cleveland clinic all the time, sometimes for weeks at a time. My mom was with him, my dad working, so that left my grandmother and me. We grew very close. She had all kinds of funny sayings she would use that I find myself using all the time and she taught me to love the piano. We had some wonderful times together and I never felt neglected or left out because I didn’t have my mom around all the time. I cherish the memories we made together.

    • Cassondra says:

      Wow, Debbie, what a poignant story, and one that is much more difficult than mine was, but the bottom line that you didn’t feel neglected is exactly the same as mine.

      When my mom went to work when I was three years old, I stayed with MotherGrant and DaddyMike. They were as much my parents as my mom and dad were in many ways. There is no measure large enough to hold the influence they had on me.

      I’m so glad yours were there for you as well.

  • Deb says:

    Oh, Cassondra!!! Congratulations!!! I love the cover because it shows warmth, love, happiness, and a fun relationship. The background is lovely and the title is just right. The best part, though, is the little ribbon at the lower right side that says “Book 1”. 🙂

    My mother is my biggest influence, still today. She is strong and loving, but often tells it like it is. I would say the strongest I have EVER seen her was just last night. She had to take my dad to Bickford Cottage, a memory care facility. She was weepy, but knows it is best for him and for her health.

    I think one of the things from childhood is the remembrance of family gatherings at Gram and Gramps’ farm, and gatherings are still important for our family today.

    Small town romances are easy to read because I am from a small town and the warmth and happy take-care-of-your-neighbor sentiments are ever present. (As well as gossip, ha!) I am so excited for you and your future books!!

    • Deb says:

      Just a side note…my folks will be married 60 years in May.

      • Cassondra says:

        That’s amazing. My parents had been together (I *think*) 53 years when my dad crossed. I know now how quickly those years go by.

    • Cassondra says:

      Deb said:

      the strongest I have EVER seen her was just last night. She had to take my dad to Bickford Cottage, a memory care facility.

      Oh Deb, there are tears streaming down my face. That is such a hard step to take, but I’m glad your mom took it, because it means you will have her longer. I think caring for my grandmother, then my father, wore my mom’s health down a lot. She was always so young for her age, but she seemed weaker after that. I’m glad your mom is doing what’s good for HER as well as what’s good for your dad.

      And yes, I definitely wanted that “Book 1” on the cover. I’m not the fastest writer, but there will definitely be more books in this series. I’ve told the cover artist I hope she can start on the covers for books 2 and 3 late in the summer, so everybody will have at least a look at the next two by the end of this year.

      • Jeanne Adams says:

        I so agree, Cassondra, and Deb, I know that was hard for your mom, but bravo to her.

        And on another note, picture me bouncing in my seat like a two year old that I’m’a gettin’ two more great covers and two more great books in Honey Bend! WOOT!!

  • Squeeeee!!!! It’s gorgeous!! Congratulations on a fantastic cover, Cassondra! Ms. Llewellyn is brilliant indeed. And I love MotherGrant for inspiring you so beautifully. 🙂

    Wow, I am bouncing off the walls with excitement to visit Honey Bend and read Del’s story. Woot! This news made my day!

  • Susan Sey says:

    Good morning, Cassondra! That cover is gorgeous! And I can’t wait to visit Honey Bend, because that’s totally what I want out of my small town romances–that large & quirky cast of secondary characters all up in each others’ business. I LOVE that. It’s my favorite. Our own Caren Crane does it like a champ, & I’m betting you will, too! Can’t wait to get my hands on this one!

    • Cassondra says:

      Aw, thank you Susan! Yeah, that “all up in each other’s business” thing… that’s unavoidable in small towns. A lot of people who grow up in small towns just hate that. I think they don’t realize until they move to a bigger place, that there is good stuff that comes with that aggravation. *grin*
      I’m trying to write faster, but there’s this OTHER aggravation…everyday life! grrrr.

  • Maureen says:

    It’s a really lovely cover. I enjoy small town romance for several reasons but one of them is the feeling of belonging that the characters have as they live in the town.

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      That’s so lovely, isn’t it Maureen?

    • Cassondra says:

      Maureen, that’s a really insightful comment.

      As I worked out the plot for this book, some of my friends and I had a conversation and your comment answers a question I’ve had.
      There is always the concern for me about “so many of the characters that come to the small town end up staying there. That’s not realistic.”
      And that’s absolutely true–in real life, not so many of them would stay. But on the other hand, I think the ones who do come to that town, are drawn there because it fills a need for them, exactly as you’ve pointed out. Erik, my hero, has never had that sense of belonging, but when he’s forced to slow down and let the people of Honey Bend embrace him, he finds it for the first time, and he likes the way it feels.
      You nailed it.

  • ellie says:

    Small town romance gives me hope, is inspiring, has such great characters and is meaningful.

    • Cassondra says:

      Hi Ellie! I’m glad you think so.

      I do too. When life gets tough, the tough reach for small-town romance.

      Yeah.

  • anne says:

    My mother made me whom I am today. She was an avid reader, devoted, loyal and hard working as well as frugal. All those traits I have inherited. I enjoy small town romance because it is completely different from what I have experienced in life.

    • Cassondra says:

      Anne, that’s really interesting. I’m drawn to it because it’s so familiar. I love hearing that you’re drawn to it because it’s different for you.

      Your mom sounds amazing. Those are all such great traits to have.

  • pearl says:

    My home cooking is something that I treasure from my grandmother whose meals were memorable. Small Town Romances are unique and special since they involve real individuals whose lives are integrated within the town who care and become invested in their neighbors health and care.

    • Cassondra says:

      Pearl, I have tried for years to replicate my grandmother’s cornbread, and I can’t quite do it. People like my cornbread okay, but hers….NO cornbread comes close to hers. She tried to teach me to make it, but of course, she didn’t measure anything with measuring spoons or cups. She just dumped it together using her hands and approximate measures, and that’s never the same with two cooks. I still have the memory of that, though, and I have her recipe for German Chocolate Cake that is just amazing. I love that your grandmother’s cooking is something you carry with you. Sometimes I think we don’t have any idea how far those things reach.

    • Jeanne Adams says:

      Oh, that’s so true, Pearl. In a small town, whether you like it or not, you care. Grins.

  • Colleen C. says:

    My grandmother was a big influence in my life… she showed me she cared no matter what… helped me come out of my shell a bit… I loved where they lived… my grandparents always had a big garden… I would help them pick all of the fruit and veggies they grew… loved being around them. Great memories.

    • Cassondra says:

      Colleen, those memories are so wonderful aren’t they? I wouldn’t trade those times for anything. And isn’t it interesting that whether the home was humble or grand, it’s the love of the grandparents that made it the place we remember. A good lesson about life and raising kids, I think.

  • Cassondra,

    You know I love small towns and small town romances, (even if I do tend to add suspense to mine.) And you know I love talking about my visits to my grandparents farm in Tennessee. And of course I not only love your cover, but the designer is special to me, too.

    Having said that…I cannot, cannot, cannot wait for this book to come out!!!! I’ll be getting my copy the moment it’s released!!! 😀 😀 😀

    • Cassondra says:

      Thank you Suz!

      And you did good, when you brought that gifted artist into the world. I love my cover, and I have Lyndsey to thank for that.

  • Jeanne Adams says:

    Hey Cassondra!! As you already know, I’m bouncing in my seat to get my hands on this book. Grins. Love, love, love the premise of Honey Bend and am THRILLED to see the cover bring even the smallest slice of it to life. As someone else said, it’s got movement and happy and purposeful and fun written allllll over it. Grins. Cannot. Wait. :>

    • Cassondra says:

      Aww, thanks Jeanne!

      Now send faeries to do the housework and take care of the rest of life so I can write faster, will you?

      *grin*

      Seriously, this book would not exist without you and some of the other Banditas, so you get credit too!

      • Jeanne Adams says:

        *blush* I do so love credit but…all you, girl. Grins.

        BTW, just saw a funny post that said “A writer with a messy house produces books” I presume this is because he/she isn’t cleaning, but writing, Grins.

        • Cassondra Murray says:

          Okay okay. I could go with the not cleaning to an extent. But not feeding the cats, or letting the dogs out….that would get ugly fast.

          Only so much I can ignore, I guess. *heavy sigh*

  • I’m really thrilled that this day has come! It’s been a long time in the making and I’m so excited to see the GROW ON ME coming down the finish line. Love the cover. Can’t wait to read it. Congratulations!

    • Cassondra says:

      Thanks Donna!

      There’s a bit of you in this book too, you know? The support you’ve given me has played a huge role in coming to this point.

      Hmmm…the Bandits are a little like a small town in that way I guess. *grin*

  • Kaelee says:

    Cassondra ~ That’s the loveliest cover I’ve seen in a long time. I love every element of it. I just signed up for your newsletter as I would love to buy the book when it comes out.

    I grew up in a small town. My paternal grandparents and a couple of uncles just across the road from our house. My maternal grandparents lived a few miles away in another small town. Lots of family influence to garden on both sides of the family. It was a necessary if you wanted to eat. However there were flower gardens as well. There isn’t any small town agriculture fairs there anymore but I remember going to see the displays of everything from peas to peonies to whatever. In the fall there would be a pie social to raise money for the church. Everyone would try to bake the pie that brought in the most money at auction. If you did something wrong your parents knew about it and did not worry if someone else told you it was wrong. We were raised by a village.

    I love reading small town romances because they bring back so many wonderful memories.

    • Cassondra says:

      Kaelee, thank you so much for saying those nice things about the cover. The designer, Lyndsey, deserves the credit for that, and I love it too.

      I cannot get over your descriptions of the small town where you grew up. Having all those people around you–neighbors and family nearby–there are negatives about it of course, but the positives so far outweigh that for me. I remember when, if you did something you shouldn’t do, your parents would hear about it before you got home. And that was before cell phones or remote cameras or video evidence. Because the neighbors were nosey, yes, but they also all took a certain responsibility for the children in their communities. Good and bad in that of course, but once again, I think the good outweighed the bad.

      You said: There isn’t any small town agriculture fairs there anymore but I remember going to see the displays of everything from peas to peonies to whatever

      We still have that at the larger fairs around here, and for so many years I have said I wanted to go. I want to look at the exhibits and see the competitions for pickles and pies and cookies. (Our own Bandita Joanie has taken many a ribbon at our State Fair baking competitions, btw) Each year goes by and I’m either traveling or too buried with work to go.
      This year is my year. I want to support that, and I want to see it before it disappears completely.

  • Dianna Love says:

    Congrats on a beautiful cover and a wonderful story line, Cassondra. I love how the cover feels like a “first romance,” which is how every great romance feels.

    I’m really excited to read this series as I’m a fan of small town romance. Honey Bend already feels real and having “honey” in the title is great. I hope you do that with all the stories.

    Ready for the first one *tapping fingers…” 🙂

    • Cassondra says:

      Hi Dianna! *waves*

      Thank you so much for stopping by. You already know the other books will have “honey” in the titles. *grin* Thanks for hinting for me to say that here.

      I’m trying to write faster, but it’s not helping that you’re about to come out with a new book. I can’t wait for STOLEN VENGEANCE next month, and that’s gonna slow me down, yaknow? Because I HAVE to stop writing to read it as soon as it comes out. Can’t miss a Slye Temp novel. *grin*

  • Elaina says:

    Small town romance provides me with the wonder, beauty, nostalgia and relationships which I pine for and miss. Unforgettable and special. I learned to appreciate books early in life since my parents read and this value is a treasure.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Elaina, I think the best influence any parent can have is by sharing books with a child. I’m not sure what my life would be like without books, and I don’t want to find out.

      Very well said about the small town settings.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  • Tawny Weber says:

    Cassondra, I LOVE your cover!!! It says so much and makes me want to reach into the computer and grab it, go settle in the couch with my tea and cookies and dive right in.

    I am a huge fan of series and of small town romances. I’m so excited to read yours.

    So, um, when can I read yours? 😉

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Thank you, Tawny.

      I love the cover too.

      It’ll be out this year. Hopefully in summer, but I’m afraid to say for sure until it’s ready. I don’t want to disappoint anybody. I’m typing as fast as I can!

  • flchen1 says:

    Ooh, Cassondra! I can’t wait!

    I do read small-town romance–I love the whole community feel of it, and generally that means there are great supporting characters 🙂

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      flchen1, that seems to be the echo I’m hearing from everyone. The great supporting characters in small town romance really make them feel alive to me, and it seems I’m not alone.

      I wonder if, in our technology age, we miss the face to face community that was once more common?

      I dunno. But I’m enjoying the writing, so I hope you enjoy the reading!

  • Cassondra, love, love, LOVE the cover. Congratulations to you and to Lyndsey! I think it’s just gorgeous – and if the cover makes me smile, imagine how happy I’ll be to read the words inside.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Aw, thank you so much Anna! I’m thrilled to get to show it off, and yes, Lyndsey did a fantastic job. It means a lot that you like it too, and I promise to get finished as fast as I can.

  • Rick Brennan says:

    Congratulations! It looks just right. I’ll leave it at that since I’m in a severe sleep deficit, and anything I try and say might be unfortunately and unintentionally entertaining. 🙂

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Aw, thanks Rick!

      I really appreciate you stopping by from wherever in the world you are.

      Now go get some sleep!

  • OMG I’ve been waiting for this SO long!! I’m so excited, wish I could find my dancing WOOHOO.

    Cassondra, I know this series is going to be something special, with your own brand of richness and depth that you bring to your blogs every time. Gorgeous cover, too! Thrilled for you, Bandita!

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Thank you so much, Christina!

      You are all making me verklempt. I so appreciate my Bandita sisters. You all mean the world to me.

  • Cassondra, woo-hoo! I love this cover and am so excited about the book. I know it’s going to be terrific.

    If you read small-town romance, what is it that draws you to the genre?

    I like the sense of community among the characters. Sometimes that’s bad, when everyone seems to be in your business, but it’s wonderful when someone needs help and word spreads.

    Is there someone from your past who played a role in making you who you are now?

    My grandfather and I used to make up stories about stick people we drew. He nourished my imagination.

    Or is there something from your childhood that’s a part of who you are now, the way MotherGrant’s flower garden became a part of me?

    That’s a hard one. My family were all readers, and I have some of my grandmother’s novels. I never really knew her because she developed dementia when I was very young, but my mom once told me her mother had a book by her favorite chair in every room and read that book when sitting in that chair. I also read more than one book at time on occasion. So I guess it’s the family love of reading that has stayed with me!

    I’m sorry not to have gotten here sooner. The afternoon was jam-packed, and the evening is stacking up. But I am so happy to see you moving ahead with this!

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Thank you Nancy, and no worries. The evening is still young!

      I love the visual of your grandfather drawing with you and making up stories. It takes so little to entertain kids, really, once imagination is engaged. Imagination is the best entertainer of all.

      Thank you for the kind words about the cover and about the book!

  • Pissenlit says:

    Wow! I’ve never heard of or seen a Celosia cristata before! Fancy!

    Yay! Pretty cover!

    Small town romances are great! I love the romance…and the small town… Okay, I guess that didn’t help. 😀

    I figure everybody and everything in your past plays a role in making you who you are whether it’s an itty bitty minuscule role or a big whopping one.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Pissenlit, I think you are absolutely right.

      It’s interesting that as I started working on this series, I found so much of my past–so many experiences–playing into what I chose to name the town, the river, where I set it, and even the characters who walked on stage. I don’t use real people for my characters, but even so, as certain ones of them started talking to me, I realized that I couldn’t have “heard” them if I hadn’t had certain experiences in life.

      It’s amazing how every moment, even the difficult ones, play into the creation of a book and its setting.

      So glad you like the cover, and so glad you like small town romance!

      There are several kinds of Celosia cristata That particular one is called “cockscomb”—-appropriate, don’t you think? For the way it looks, AND for the Lair? *grin*

  • I am SO EXCITED about this book! One of my many jobs after opera was as a landscape designer for a large local nursery. I ran a crew of mostly Spanish-speaking guys and it was hard work, but we had a great time. I don’t spend nearly as much time on my current landscape and flower gardens as I would like to, but one of these days I will be writing for a living. Working at home keeps one close to the flowers!

    I have spent much of my life traveling, but my favorite stopping places have been small towns – a small village in England, a small village in Germany and now the small town where I live.

    In a small town, everyone knows who you are and usually what you are doing. It can be a pain, but it can also be a bit of an adventure trying to outsmart the gossips. It is the idea of belonging to something, very much like a family. You may fight with your family, not speak to them for years, but when the chips are down and an outsider comes after you, that “family” will come out of the woodwork to help you. It is perfectly okay for the “family” to beat up on you or talk badly about you, but an outsider? Hell, no!

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Haha! You, me and the Duchesse Jeanne–we’ll call it Dream Landscapes.

      Yup. Birds of a feather.

      Louisa said: In a small town, everyone knows who you are and usually what you are doing. It can be a pain, but it can also be a bit of an adventure trying to outsmart the gossips. It is the idea of belonging to something, very much like a family.

      I don’t think I could have put it any better if I’d tried. It is that “belonging” that makes the difference, and sometimes the family that stands up for you isn’t actually blood kin. And that makes it all the richer, I think. When you find that community, you’ve found home.

      I found that with songwriters first, then ended up with fiction writers and readers who’ve embraced me with an even stronger hold.

      The creative community has become my family, and I love the town I live in.

      Thank you, Louisa. As usual, you say things in a way that’s fresh and brilliant. I hope you like the book as much as I’m enjoying writing it.

  • Jo Robertson says:

    Sorry I’m so late to your party, Cassondra. But SUPER CONGRATS on the creation of Honey Bend. Can’t wait for the first book!

  • Laurie G says:

    If you read small-town romance, what is it that draws you to the genre?
    I like the closeness, the family ties, friends forever.
    In small towns everybody knows everybody and everything about you. There’s a feeling of togetherness and pride in making your home and the community a better place to live. Helping your neighbors is the norm.

    Is there someone from your past who played a role in making you who you are now?

    My parents were avid readers. My great aunt. Anna, too. My grandmother, Rose, canned jams and berries and pickles. My neighbor, Gladys, had a gorgeous flower garden. She tried to teach me how to grow flowers. My mom taught me how to knit

    I’m looking forward to reading Del’s story and visiting Honey Bend.

    I love small town series!

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Hi Laurie G!

      That’s a great summary of small-town life. How cool that you have all those people, even neighbors, who were strong influences for you.

      I think the people who influenced us positively truly become a part of who we are. I love your descriptions of the people who filled those roles for you.

      I hope you like Honey Bend as much as I do. 🙂